Maria is singer from Spanish band La Gresca. I had the luck to see them in London playing with Jawless in small Camden pub called Dev. They were amazing. Maria was everywhere, kicking, spitting and dancing around the stage screaming her lungs out. Rest of the band catching up with her wild nature. It was visual and musical candy be honest that night. Punk and roll in its finest, therefore I have decided to get in touch and find out more.
J: Hola Maria, I know you are at the hospital at the time I am typing this so going to avoid the first question about how you are and instead ask you what is the first thing you will get when you would be discharged from the hospital? Is there anything you really starve for you cannot get at hospital?
M: Hello. The first thing I want to do is say hello to my cats, put on the record player, eat a lot of fruit and sleep. At the hospital you cannot sleep very well. Everything will be in that order.
J: What record you will play first then?
M: Undoubtedly … Billie Holiday or Etta James are two of the voices that I adore the most. I like their strength and energy, with them I know I’m at home.
J: How is the situation with Covid 19 going in Spain? I think its getting better, but Spain was affected pretty badly just few weeks back. Were any of your family members or band members affected by it? Hope they are all doing well and recovered from it in good health. Was it that bad across Spain as we had heard in the news? What do you think what went wrong in Spain with the numbers of so many dead? Was it lack of information from government, people not trusting and carrying normally even being warned or is there something what might upset you about the whole situation?
M: The situation is improving, but well there is still no vaccine or treatment that helps, so the Covid continues. It is hot and they said that this will help to calm the situation down and I also think it is thanks to the effort of the people, we have to take care of each other.
I had relatives hospitalized but already out of danger, a friend of mine in Italy and some acquaintances died.
On the other hand, the work situation is quite unfortunate, it is a crisis. Well the numbers are there, I think no one is prepared for this. Spain decided to choose people and not money, like other countries and everything has consequences. The problem in Spain is the years that corruption has been in the political class and the right-wing government that privatized healthcare in many communities. The lock down here has been quite hard, in other countries people could go out much more, and despite everything we got sick and many people died.
What bothers me most is the disinformation by the media but in all countries and the political class that is fucking shit, the world is being ruled by the stupid.
J: I hear you about the ruling class. UK is no much different be honest. Watching Boris Johnson handling this situation is ridiculous joke. That man should be send to prison for endangering and acting irresponsibly causing death to many vulnerable people. I guess there will be time soon “to stop singing and start swinging”.
I would like to find out more about you as a person. Can you tell us more about your early childhood? Where did you grow up? Any siblings and what are your earliest memories? Tell me about your social background and your upbringing?
M: My childhood is full of dirt in my hair, knee injuries and revolvers to play the North American Indians defending themselves against cowboys. I was an Apache Indian, I have never stopped being one. I did not like the ties, nor the dresses, nor the dolls, it was quite unruly, more or less like now hahaha and I have always played and lived with animals, my father always took us to the field and at home we have adopted all kinds of animals.
I have a brother, 4 years older than me, he is the good one hahaha. We are very different in character, but we love each other very much, we have a small craft beer factory, together with a friend and our cousin.
I grew up in Santa Pola (Alicante) in the Mediterranean, but I am from Albacete and every summer we went to my grand parents’ house when there was no school, so I grew up in both places.
Well my education comes from two people, my parents, who have worked hard and very hard for my brother and I to study, they always let us choose what we wanted to do and I decided to study Fine Arts, Design and Photography.
J: Assuming the Karl May books might be the inspiration for your Indian plays. I did the same when I was young. My scar between my eyes is proof – got hit with arrow right between them and surviving or not losing my eye by centimetre away haha. Priceless time out all day chasing each other around the block of flats in concrete jungle.
Do you have any priceless scars on your body reminding you your youthful days? Where and what happened there?
M: Undoubtedly I have some scars on my legs, on my face and well on my bones, only that they are not visible to your eyes. I behaved quite well hahaha, I climbed everywhere, if I had to explain each fall and each blow we would never end this interview hahaha. So I will tell you that I fractured both arms several times and I will tell you that once my brother and I were running away from geese who wanted to bite our ass, and my brother pushed me to get caught so was able to escape and I hit the branch of a tree and I was hooked on the branch with my face, goose biting my ass, while he escaped to call my parents … my brother would not be a good ally in a Zombie holocaust hahahaha. I was 9 years old. Well, being older and in a small town you have to have a lot of imagination, so we went to the municipal land field, we called it the supermarket and we looked for refrigerators, bath tubs, washing machines to put them up the slopes and get inside to throw ourselves down the hill, something always happened hahaha but we somehow survived.
J: Do you remember the time when from little Maria become a teenager Maria whos interests has changed from playing with toys to be more interested in boys / girls stuff and thrills? Do you remember the transition to adulthood and how that effected you? How did you cope with the changes in your physical appearance and mental? Did you have anybody to talk to about the growing up stuff or did you have to pretty much figure it out your own way?
M: Of course I remember, you really stop playing with someone to play with others, I have never stopped playing. Now that I have little nephews I play with them again like when I was 5 years old, but I understand the change you are talking about, you start reading other things, to listen to other music, you start looking for your path, your people.
Well that time is difficult, I was not always a good student, only when I wanted to, I did not believe in anything that I had around me, so I read a lot, about politics, philosophy, poetry etc. I was lucky to have parents with those who can talk about everything despite how bad I was hahaha.
J: What were the most common actions / mischievments you did your parents had to shout at you and put you on right track?
M: My parents did not shout much, they just forbade me to go out, and well sometimes I obeyed and other times not, my parents talked with my brother and with me, and well for example I ate very badly, so my mother kept my food if I did not want it, and I would take it out at the next meal time and if I didn’t want it, I would put it away again, once I had onion soup the day before, that was usual for me, at home they taught us not to say I’m hungry, because people who have no food are hungry, we learned to say I don’t feel like it because if we have food, I don’t know if you understand what I mean? My parents explained very well what privileges people have and what they don’t.
J: I understand what you are trying to say about the food. We are lucky to be able to have fresh food daily.
When and how did you discover punk rock? Was punk strong in your area, hometown? Tell us more about bands you discovered first and had influence on your next musical lifestyle.
M: I think I would be 13 years old, in the town where I lived there were not many people my age who liked punk, metal, rock and roll, so soon we started going with older people, who are still great friends. In my grandparents’ town there weren’t many boys and girls who liked that either and well you know, you end up listening to everything. A friend brings a new album, copies it on a cassette and so it goes from one hand to another. There was no internet, there were handwritten letters and recommendations written by the people you met in the summer. On the other hand, in my house I have been lucky to hear good Rock´n´Roll, Soul and Jazz. Then I had to look for my sounds outside, between friends and concerts, when I was a teenager (between 13 and 15 years old) I listened to a lot of metal like Pantera, Slayer, Kreator …, later when politics and philosophy get into my mind it is when I start to realize that Punk makes more sense to me and since then I have never stopped listening to it. Bands that I have always liked, many, I am a crazy meloman who listens to almost everything: Motorhead, RIP, Dead Boys, Bad Brains, Disfear, Gang Green, New Bomb Turks, Plasmatics, Eskorbuto, Iggy Pop, MC5, X-Ray Spex, The Clash, Poison Idea, and many more. Everything you listen to ends up influencing for better or for worse hahahaha.
J: Can you tell us more about Spanish scene? What bands La Gresca plays the most with, what kind of gigs you guys play, what is the line up usually and are bands playing with mix line up at a gigs or the punk rock bands play with punk rock bands and hardcore with hardcore bands? Tell us more about punk rock in Spain and the local bands you want to give thumb up and let us aware of them?
M: Here culture is not treated too well, it is a basic problem, so punk, hxc, “the underground” imagine, many times we operate by self-management, sometimes we save our money to record and edit our records and other times to pay bands and that they come to our city, we play with all kinds of bands because what we want is to play, also many times we choose to play with and for people, others in a beneficial way to help, sometimes we play the opening act of other more famous bands and sometimes as headliner, we don’t care about the order that doesn’t make you better or worse, we don’t compete with anyone, as there are also ghettos everywhere I think that is inevitable, we go through that shit and then and most importantly they are friends, the big family that is the best of all this and what gives meaning to everything, the people you meet along the way. I will tell you about some bands with female members. To me it is very important to show the talent of many women who make music, who are authentic punks and are really extraordinary fighters on and off stage, that is why we have created a Distributor (DIY) together with My sister Olga, for bands or records where women work, we are here and we have always been with the same talent as men. From that idea we created Resistterror (Resistance / Sister / Terror).
Now I quote you a few bands of great Spanish women, many great friends and sisters who influence me and a lot on a personal and artistic level: Againsters, The Capaces, Penadas por La Ley, Ana Curra (Permanent Paralysis), Grippers, Pitztupunk, Taska, Vecchias, Leopard Skin, he left me a lot, I hope you will forgive me and of course I also have very good brothers, Punko! UK, La Cripta; Gas Mustard, Gen, KBKS, Subterranean Kids, Invisible War, La Banda Trapera del Río, Sensa Yuma, listing bands sucks because you always forget someone and the most important thing is the people behind the names working hard to play their music and express their ideas. I can say that in this country there is a lot of very poorly recognized talent because they always eat the cake themselves. But I know that they are not going to stop doing what they do, neither they, nor they, nor us, this is a way of life, not a fashion.
J: Was La Gresca your first band you got involved with? Tell us more about the history of the band please and how did you guys come together? Do you carry on statement you want to spread across the world?
M: No La Gresca was not my first band, there were other attempts, a metal band where we were all girls, other things to hang out with friends, collaborations and many disappointments. La Gresca came from 3 girls who came to me and propose me to sing because they had told me they have seen me doing collaboration with bands of friends, so we can say that La Gresca started as a women’s band. Only I have remained from the day I said yes to be in the band, but I made a promise to myself, I said to myself: “Until the end”, and here I continue, several members have passed through La Gresca and I can say that I have been very comfortable with everyone, but damn my colleagues are now like brothers, Luis has been around for many years, in addition that he is one of my best friends, Oscar has been a short time in the band but we know each other from long time ago, knowing his other bands that are also great friends of ours. At the end everything stays with the family, laughter, arguing, doing evil things hahaha and sometimes also doing good. We have no declaration for the world, we are what we are and we will not stop doing it, this is our world and we will fight for it.
J: If you will have to choose a movie to describe each member of your band including yourself what movie it will be?
M: This question is very difficult because we are all very different, that is why La Gresca has such different themes, we do not follow any pattern, rather it could be a mixture, of several films, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show “, “Snatch”, “Pigs and Diamonds “and” Amanece que no es poco “(my favorite comedy in Spanish cinema).
J: I remember the day when I saw you in London The Dev bar in Camden, I was tired and did not want to come to the show, but my friends Jawless were playing and I was like, “what a heck lets see this Spanish wild cats” and I was blown away by your set. I love when its hot on stage. When singer is wild, stroking poses, in and out of stage and I can see the happiness and feel the energy transforming into my pictures. It must be portion of exhibitionism inside you to get it all out in front of people. When did you discover the inner wild you? Were you always show off or you had shy phases in your life or this is pure natural you when you take the mic and the music hits the first tunes?
M: Well I do not think it is a pose, I do not practice hahaha if I practiced it would be too orthopedic hahaha I do not know sometimes or even remember what I do on stage, I see it later in photos or videos, or people tell me, the only thing I know is that when we start to touch the world stops and everything is perfect because just then I am 100% the rest of the time I just wait for it to happen again, I say what I think and write, I do what I feel.
J: I surely was not trying to say you are poser, haha. I meant it was wild, it was authentic and cool to watch. Trust me, if that will be pose it will be visible from the pics and I can sense fake from miles. Its like the “artists” sixth sense. I am sure you can smell fake from distance too especially when you taking pictures.
M: If that’s the case, especially when you see a band many times and they always make the same gestures. It’s strange for me to always repeat the same positions, because although they are the same songs, each concert is a different moment, there are people who want to be so personal that ends up confusing identity, with over interpretation is strange hahaha but I respect it if they do a good shit for me hahaha.
J: You take pictures at the gigs and you are involved in art, how have you got involved with art? What inspired you or who? How important is art in your life and the way you live your life? Is it hard to be an artist? Does your art pay your bills or its more the creative inner self giving you the pleasure from creating rather then living from it?
M: Well I don’t understand life without Art, it’s that simple, my father was a painter, my mother is passionate about Art and my brother too. Most of my best friends are Artists (although the word Artist is crap, because Art it is life, our life). I have always been involved in collectives, doing, organizing or participating in collective exhibitions, I really like people, learning from them, but I also need my individual space to create. Art seldom pays bills but you have to keep doing it, it is necessary, hopefully it will be valued more.
J: So tell us more about your art, show us some of your art and write us more about some of your artworks you did.
M: First I will explain that I suppose that I am interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary, I do not know how to define it. I am changing materials I need to experiment, I suppose they are stages, which I am clear that I always look for more or less a way of speaking about what I know or continue investigating, about WOMEN as the main theme. Sometimes subtly from the “I” and obviously I am a woman, other times as I see women, in Art I suppose that everything is research, I really specialized in two things, a very classic as is the Restoration of Works of Art, I love history and it is the best way for me to see the past and the other Sculpture and Public Space, when my father died I had a break with Art. I was then running a gallery, he passed away the day he was organizing a painting exhibition of his and I suppose that everything made my head explode and I stopped dead for 3 years. I no longer organized exhibitions, I did not do any sculpture, or installations, or actions I used to do before. I mixed video art with sculpture, I had to break with that, then I started to pick up things that I did in my childhood like photography and collages, I became part of collectives again and I suppose people end up rescuing you. I have good friends and family who wake you up at the worst times, so I can say that thanks to them I went back to organizing group exhibitions and working on my work. People do great miracles with small gestures that are great at the same time. Collage and photography 9 years ago that saved my artistic life. About photography I can say that it is like an extension of my hand and I think that I love to travel because I can photograph hahaha and collages are like an extension of my thinking.
J: Be honest I dont know much about politics in Spain. I love being part of European union and I have very pro democratic liberal political views, but what about you? This interview is about you, haha? What are your political stands and direction? What do you think about the whole Brexit wave? What are the views in Spain about UK waving good bye? The coast cities are pretty much full of British people and businesses, are you guys going to kick them off the coast once and for all haha?
M: I do not believe in the System, it does not work and they insist on continuing to insist, they do not fix the errors, the political class makes me nauseous, they only look at their reflection in a mirror, I believe in the organization and self-management of the neighborhoods, the towns, the class worker, in the fight for equality of women and men, of the poor and the rich, in human rights regardless of sex, race and religion, some say that is anarchism hahaha.
With regard to Brexit, I think it is stupid to create more borders in this shit of a globalized world, I do not think that Spain closes its doors to anyone, tourism is money and I live in a coastal area, people live from tourism. We should all be free to circulate around the world. I am more concerned with people who come to save their lives in Africa than I am with Brexit.
J: What makes you happy in life? When was the last time you laugh your lungs out, do you remember what happened at that time?
M: What makes me happiest without a doubt is being with the people I love, laughing with them, but it also makes me very happy to travel near or far and going to the venue to rehearse with La Gresca is my best moment of the week. The last time I laughed a lot, hahaha I always laugh a lot hahaha but I think a good one was in Berlin before this Covid thing started. I went to Berlin with my cousin and a friend and well we wanted to go to a place that had to wear something light and “I’m a clown”, so I invented a bodysuit and a cape with transparent yellow garbage bags and I started doing Super woman all over the place, the room, hahahaha I do many stupid things.
J: I am sure you know what will be the next question. We need proof of the costume. Photo please.
M: Hahahaha there are things that it is better to live them then to photograph them, we laugh too much to take photos.
J: Do you have favorite place where you go when you not feeling good or sad? What helps you over come sad days?
M: I don’t have specific places, but going to my grandparents’ town once in a while helps. As if returning to the origins. I am more of people, having a conversation with a good friend, or playing music at home and dancing until I get tired. I am of actions and people when I am bad or sad. But I also like to be alone, read, or listen to one album after another or go for a run.
J: Turning page, I am noticing loads of people are taking their own life, loads of young men and women, friends are leaving this world. Its hard to absorb, what do you think it is that is making people ending their life? What is it in this world that makes us so hopeful? What do you think we all can do to prevent losing friends?
M: I think this world is shit, the lack of empathy, the lack of opportunities, what is right or wrong as established, it is even difficult for someone like me or like you to adapt because I think we do not want to adapt to something in which we do not believe, that is why we fight and work to make it different for us and well it is difficult to answer this. When a friend or anyone decides such action, we always have that part of the blame, and we think that we did not do enough to help, sometimes you think that this option does not exist because we think that we can all fight a little more but reality shows us that it is not, and unfortunately sometimes the help is not enough or it does not arrive on time or they are simply decisions in which any factor external cannot intervene. Systems must change, the world must change, and we must do what is possible. Every time people are more afraid to talk about feelings, emotions, of the natural and I think it is wonderful to be able to talk about all that, about what makes you feel good or bad about the people with whom you share moments, experiences, not we are machines.
J: How many records have you guys released so far? Tell us about La Gresca discography and what label you released it? Do you sell it yourself over some website? Where we can get your records?
M: Our first recording was a demo with 4 totally homemade songs, then came our first album “Mercado Negro”, then a single for a compilation of local bands that we recorded at KAK Redords and finally “La Navaja” that we recorded a year ago, We have no label behind, we recorded in Sonica Studios a studio where other friendly bands had recorded, but you know you’re going to pay and edit, we all pay, we will probably start working soon to re-record soon. We already have a new topic, when COVID allows us hahaha, to acquire any of our works you can write to any of our social networks (facebook, IG or mail) and we send it by post or at our concerts.
J: Is there a question nobody ever asked you but at the back of your mind you have the answer ready? What is it and I will ask you…haha.
M: Maybe two, the first would be, what do you expect from music or punk?
That women have the same representation and equality of conditions as men, because they have always been equally or more actively present in the movement and on the stage.
And the second since you have asked me from the history of my childhood you have now, why not talk about the future?
How would you like to die? Playing to the end. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.
A big hug and I hope to see you soon in London, we really founnd a lot of really great people to join our great family.
J: It was my pleasure to see you guys rock at the Dev pub with Jawless. Hope you stay safe and we catch up soon in the pit with La Gresca.